Requirements for waiver or reduction of fees.
Records responsive to a request will be furnished without charge or at a charge reduced below that established under paragraph (d) of § 70.40 where a Disclosure Officer determines, based on all available information, that the requester has demonstrated that:
Disclosure of the requested information is in the public interest because it is likely to contribute significantly to public understanding of the operations or activities of the government, and
Disclosure of the information is not primarily in the commercial interest of the requester.
To determine whether the requirement of paragraph (a)(1)(i) of this section is met, components will consider the following factors:
The subject of the request: Whether the subject of the requested records concerns "the operations or activities of the government." The subject of the requested records must concern identifiable operations or activities of the federal government, with a connection that is direct and clear, not remote or attenuated.
The informative value of the information to be disclosed: Whether the disclosure is "likely to contribute" to an understanding of government operations or activities. The disclosable portions of the requested records must be meaningfully informative about government operations or activities in order to be "likely to contribute" to an increased public understanding of those operations or activities. The disclosure of information that already is in the public domain, in either a duplicative or a substantially identical form, would not be as likely to contribute to such understanding where nothing new would be added to the public's understanding.
The contribution to an understanding of the subject by the public likely to result from disclosure: Whether disclosure of the requested information will contribute to "public understanding." The disclosure must contribute to the understanding of a reasonably broad audience of persons interested in the subject, as opposed to the individual understanding of the requester. A requester's expertise in the subject area and ability and intention to effectively convey information to the public will be considered. It will be presumed that a representative of the news media will satisfy this consideration.
The significance of the contribution to public understanding: Whether the disclosure is likely to contribute "significantly" to public understanding of government operations or activities. The public's understanding of the subject in question must be enhanced by the disclosure to a significant extent.
To determine whether the requirement of paragraph (a)(1)(ii) of this section is met, components will consider the following factors:
The existence and magnitude of a commercial interest: Whether the requester has a commercial interest that would be furthered by the requested disclosure. The Disclosure Officer will consider any commercial interest of the requester (with reference to the definition of "commercial use request" in § 70.38(f)), or of any person on whose behalf the requester may be acting, that would be furthered by the requested disclosure. Requesters will be given an opportunity in the administrative process to provide explanatory information regarding this consideration.
The primary interest in disclosure: Whether any identified commercial interest of the requester is sufficiently large, in comparison with the public interest in disclosure, that disclosure is "primarily in the commercial interest of the requester." A fee waiver or reduction is justified where the public interest standard is satisfied and that public interest is greater in magnitude than that of any identified commercial interest in disclosure. The Disclosure Officer ordinarily will presume that where a news media requester has satisfied the public interest standard, the public interest will be the interest primarily served by disclosure to that requester. Disclosure to data brokers or others who merely compile and market government information for direct economic return will not be presumed to primarily serve the public interest.
Where only some of the records to be released satisfy the requirements for a waiver of fees, a waiver will be granted only for those records.
Requests for the waiver or reduction of fees should address the factors listed in paragraph (a) of this section, insofar as they apply to each request.
Submission. Requests for waiver or reduction of fees must be submitted along with the request or before processing of the request has been commenced.
Appeal rights. The procedures for appeal under 70.22 and 70.23 will control.
[71 FR 30769, May 30, 2006]